Methadone Treatment

Methadone Treatment

Known as a highly effective and powerful drug, Methadone is a narcotic that fits the same category as heroin. This particular category is termed as opioids. Because Methadone is extremely safe, this is a drug that has been subject to a rigorous pattern of medication which is considered to be very safe for use because it is most effective to treat addiction.

For over three decades, Methadone has served well to address the growing problem of opioid related addiction. However, methadone addiction itself has grown into a problem today but first, our focus of discussion will briefly cover how methadone works to treat opioid addiction.

Methadone Treatment Resources



How Methadone Works

When methadone is used, it is believed to prevent morphine or narcotics like heroin from getting to interact on receptors for painkillers that are basically natural and termed as endorphins. By ensuring that the effects caused by drugs that have an addictive nature are blocked, methadone reduces the physical craving that is normally triggered. It is pertinent to note that the use of methadone itself is capable of creating its own effects such as a drowsy kind of feeling or a feeling of light euphoria that may last up to a day or two but none of this is likely to cause any kind of depression that a majority of the opiates are known to do. The use of methadone on a continuous basis may even restore the normal body capabilities comprising immune, adrenal and sexual functions.

Having established its credentials as a highly effective therapeutic medicine that can definitely serve to rehabilitate addicts of narcotic drugs, this drug is widely used across U.S., Sweden, Thailand and even Hong Kong. Due to it being extremely useful to help an addict pierce the veil of destructive life threatening habits, a majority of the drug maintenance programs make use of methadone in its oral form.

Dosage of Methadone

If the dosage is meant to treat a typical grown up or an adult, the dosage would usually be in oral form comprising 5-20 mg. If it is prescribed as a tablet rather than an oral kind of solution, this would comprise 2.5-10 mg but if methadone is used as a means for effective detox, an initial dose comprising 15-100 mg in the form of oral kind of solution would be administered each day and gradually reduced till it is clear that the medication is not required any longer for the patient.

When injection of methadone is used, it is only in the rarest of the rare detoxification cases where the patient is completely incapable of taking the medication of methadone orally. Sometimes, it is possible to administer methadone as a kind of infusion into the patient’s vein with the supervision of a doctor or a well-known health care professional whose expertise on the use and effects of the medicine is well established to ensure that special consideration and care is given.

Caution Pointers While Using Methadone
  1. When you follow the instructions that are laid out by the health care professional, remember not to suddenly stop using methadone because your body might suffer the shock badly. It is important to keep reminding yourself that your body has become accustomed to methadone use so a gradual transition would be better than a sudden stop.

  2. When you use methadone, it is natural to feel drowsy so it would be best not to drive or engage in any kind of activity that mandates alertness of the mind. You have to be careful when you use methadone so avoid standing or sitting up too fast because you may feel of dizzy or even faint.

  3.  Whether you drink or not, it is best to avoid any alcohol drinks when you use methadone because that would worsen the drowsiness, confused feelings and breathing as well. So the bottom line is to just say no to alcohol when you are using methadone.

  4. It is best to steer clear from other drugs or medicines as these may be likely to tire you or even increase the feelings of drowsiness, and so on.

  5. An effect that is naturally a result of using methadone is the problem of constipation, which is extremely uncomfortable and unhealthy for the body. To counter the problem of constipation, it is best to opt for a laxative or a stool softener so that bowel movements become easier to handle. If bowel movements still do not take place for more than three days, it is best to revert to your doctor for help.


Methadone Side Effects

Every drug brings with it a small, unwanted gift of side effects that cannot be wished away. This is the same with the use of methadone as well but here are some side effects that you should not hesitate to inform your doctor about:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Skin turning cold or clammy
  • Feeling of confusion or faintness
  • Feeling restless or nervous
  • Difficulty in passing urine

The following are side effects that don’t need to be immediately addressed to the doctor unless it becomes painful or too troublesome to deal with:

  • Blurred vision
  • Clumsiness in movements
  • Problem of constipation
  • Feeling of dizziness or fainting spell
  • Extremely dry mouth
  • Flushing and headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting


Methadone Addiction

It was during the latter half of the 1990s that the problem of methadone addiction emerged as a serious issue. There were cases of methadone overdoses as well that made a dramatic impact in awareness of methadone addiction and abuse. It indicated a trend among drug addicts to switch their loyalties to methadone in the absence of other drugs that were normally used. As a result, the FDA gave their green signal of approval to use a substitute for methadone in treating drug addicts. The name of the substitute is Buprenorphine, which is a drug belonging to the narcotic category and is effective in curbing emergence of withdrawal symptoms in addicts who are dependent on the drug. Another drug known as Levomethadyl acetate is also used in place of methadone.

With these facts on methadone addiction, the hope of the future lies drastically in reducing the growing figures in drug dependent addicts.


American Methadone Treatment Association, News Report, pp.1–14, August, 1998.
American Methadone Treatment Association, 1998 Methadone Maintenance Program and Patient Census in the U.S., New York, NY, April 1999.
Boundy, Donna, "Profile: Methadone Maintenance: The 'Invisible' Success Story," Moyers on Addiction, New York, NY: Public Broadcasting Service, 1998.
Firshein, Janet, "The Politics of Methadone," Moyers on Addiction, New York, NY: Public Broadcasting Service, 1998.
Broekhuysen, Erin Steiner, ONDCP Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy,
Mathias, Robert, "NIH Panel Calls for Expanded Methadone Treatment for Heroin Addiction," NIDA NOTES, 12(6), Washington, DC: National Institute on Drug Abuse, November/December 1997.
Recer, Paul, "Experts Call for Less Regulation of Heroin Addiction Treatment," Athens Daily News, p. 10a, August 21, 1998.

Topic Discussion

  1. Addict

    I am on methadone treatment in alabama and would like to say this site is very informative, but I would like to see more testomonies from clients. Methadone works and more people need to kinow about this wonderful way to get your life back.

  2. Addict

    my daughter has been using heroin for 2 years, but is now going to methadone clinic for about 2 months... she is on 70mg, everyday. When do you think they will start dropping her? and is she just as dependent on that as the heroin? replacing one drug for another?

    • Addict

      Michele, you sound very concerned for your daughter, and support is vital in recovery. It can be frustrating to wait for results, however, changing from one drug to another is also important in recovery. If you were to completely shut her off from a drug (once addicted) this may cause a relapse. The slower the better. For her health, if she was to stop cold turkey there could be worse health issues, even death from withdrawals. Be patient, let her know you are there and support her effort in getting treatment. Trust in the clinics, become part of her life, go to a meeting, understand what she is dealing with. Of course no drug is safe, but step by step, day by day, she will get better. It will take time, but her body needs to re-adjust to the levels in her system slowly to be effective. my email should be available if you need to talk.

    • Addict

      I am an addictions counselor at a methadone clinic. Once your daughter reaches a stable dose, she needs to remain at that dose for 6 months to a year in order for her brain/body chemistry to heal and readjust to what it was prior to her heroin use. Most methadone treatment programs take a minimum of 2 years, if patients follow clinic guidelines. It is also important for patients to be engaged in individual and group therapy sessions to learn new ways of coping with daily life stresses and to learn recovery skills. I have patients come to me everyday feeling stressed because their family members expect them to finish treatment in a matter of a few months. When patients try to rush their treatment due to family pressure, they inevitably relapse. It took your daughter two years to reach the point where she needed to enter treatment for her addiction issues. Expect that it may take two years for her to successfully complete treatment and maintain recovery. The best thing you can do is support her without putting pressure of her to hurry up and get well. Also, when one member of the family is sick, it causes the family unit to be sick as well. Family members also need to be in treatment to learn how to deal with their addicted family members and for their own mental health and well-being. I encourage all family members to attend support groups such as Al-Anon, CODA or Nar-Anon. Addictions are not produced in a vacuum. Everyone is effected and everyone's issues need to be addressed.

    • Addict

      I just stared going to the clinic and my mom brought up "well now I'm basically paying for you to get high legally" this is not true I'm not trading one drug for another. The liquid methadone is different from the pills. I asked my doc this...we don't know what's in the pills but the liquid is med. it's just basically filling the spots were u fill the need for a high with medicine that's not making us high. It's hard to understand. I would ask if it was ok to talk to someone at your daughter's clinic to know what is going on really. Good luck and be supportive my mom is not and I worry all the time.

    • Addict

      Hi my name is Chris and I have been on Methadone for 5 yrs. as well as clean for 5 yrs. I was addicted to just about every pain killer out there as well as heroin. I understand your concern for your daughter but two months on Methadone is nothing. It takes that long of leaving clean urine sample just to get your first take hoe carry and then every clean month after that you get another take home carry. You also go from leaving 2 samples a month down to 1 after you get your full carries. I got lucky and was on my treatment program two weeks before I went to jail for two months. (Addiction related) Because I was in jail I was able to get clean in my first two months. I had no access to the drug. The normal situation (if there is a normal situation) is that a person keeps using their drug of choice until the Methadone is at a high enough dose that they are not getting sick anymore. The sick I went through in jail I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. My methadone doc related it to imagining your worst flu and multiplying it by ten. After I came out of jail I was on 65 ml. I was still feeling a little bit on edge so my dose kept going up until the sick stopped. I caped at 165 ml. I live in Canada and the government has put a cap of 120 ml, saying that is all the average person needs. Anyone who knows math knows that there had to be people over 120 ml to get 120 as the average. I was one of these people and to be able to pass the cap I had to have two doc's consult and then had to have regular E K G's. I stayed at the 165 for about 2 yrs. I have since started to come down. Just a side note. I read another personís article and they stated that the clinics will keep raising a patients dose as long as they ask. This is true to a point. Like I said there is a cap that is not easy at all to get around and that the person getting there drink has started doing this because they want to get better. If you were a heavy user like I was ( I would go through 15 oxy 80's in a day, or inject a 100 mg fentanyl patch followed by three oxy 80's ) it takes a higher dose to get the sick to go away. I am now on 45 ml's and still tapering down on a monthly basis. The worst thing you can do to your daughter is rush her. I have lost my dad due to my addiction. Even though I'm on methadone he is convinced that I am still using, just legally now and had told me not to call him until I'm off that too. Please don't do that to her and also understand that she is not supposed to even think about coming off the methadone until she is a level 6. All carries and one urine sample a week. I still get sick every morning before I have my dose but am hoping that goes away the lower I get. Sorry to all for the lengthy letter but it really gets me going to hear of anyone being given a hard time that has decided that they want their life back and doesn't want to chance going into stroke ( by quitting to quickly ) and decides to go on methadone. If she wants t get clean she will I promise. Good luck to all that are struggling with addiction like I am. One more thing my addiction was created by my doc. I fell 18 ft. destroyed my right knee and was prescribed 8 perc's and 6 10 mg oxy's a day. When I asked to switch to delada so I wouldn't have to take so many pills a day he cut me off cold turkey saying I just want a better buzz. I got so sick I had no choice but to turn to the streets.

  3. Addict

    yes she has just traded one drug for another. however, there are benefits to methadone over heroin. she is guaranteed her medication everyday. she doesn't have to hunt money to buy dope off the streets. she can now hold a job because she knows she is going to get her methadone everyday. also there are other benefits such as methadone is easier to taper than other short acting opiods. the detoxification process on methadone is the same as heroin the drugs are of the same family and methadone is just intended to stop addict like behaviour. like running around selling drugs/ prostituting / etc to get money for their dope. yes it is just a trade off but atleast its legal and she can have it everyday and hopefully eventually ween down off it.

    also, i thought i'd mention that usually they do what you tell them to do as far as raising and lowering methadone dose at these clinics. so it may be your daughters fault she hasnt been lowered any.

  4. Addict

    i have a lot of health problems degenerative disc in my neck ,arthritis in neck and shoulders, bulging disc,spurs and repondopathy spelled wrong but this all leading up to 30mg of oxycodone 30 4 times a day i seriously am addicted i found a intervention pain specialist that has now put me on opana 40mg to control the pain plus the withdrawls i have had severe withdrawal in the past. the opana is 500 dollars for 43 pills which my insurance don't cover uggg so they are mentioning putting me on methadone i am petrified of this medication that is just another addition isn't it? plus i heard you cant take this methadone if you have heart problems i have atrial fibrillation that is my heart goes out of rhythm when it wants to which is horrible i am so confused this doctor does not have much bed side manner and i am so scared of taking this should i stay on the opana which is way to much money or be scared of the methadone i hope you can help me with this problem . i am also getting epidurals for the pain in my neck and shoulders which is in operatable so please help as best you can in answering this i am scared of methadone and cant afford the opana i feel hopeless i also take zanex 2 mil for severe anxiety and panic attacks and bipolar plus other meds for the atrial fib please help in any way possible i heard you can not mix methadone with zanex i just really don't no what to do...

  5. Addict

    My daughter in law is going to a methadone clinic but I don't think that is all. I don't want to hurt her if she is truly getting well but she has sores all over and falls asleep standing, walking, talking, bending over. I have had people tell me they have seen her in Wal-mart bending over sound asleep. The sores have just started in the last 3-4 months but supposedly she has been going to the methadone clinic longer than that. Her husband wants her in a in patient rehab but she says this is better. They have 3 children. We just feel lost and don't know what to do.

    • Addict

      I am a 30 yr old female and been using heroin for 10yrs. My father started me on it at bout age 18. I've always had means of buying my drug but not always if, you have money means your dealer will have the drug and so you get sick anyway. Ups and downs of copping all addicts go thru but recently I've joined a methadone clinic and was scared to death of the things I've heard about long use of this drug. I've done as much research as I can on this drug and found it to be safe long as you use it the way the program intended but there's always a hand full of patients that attend that tell the docs there that their still feeling sick and have withdrawal symptoms and so they need a higher dose of meth or if she keeps coming to the clinic and gives dirty urine then her assigned counselor may suggest she needs a stronger dose and so she says OK and soon she's nodding out b4 she can make it home. Its up to your daughter really to have them lower it but she may not want that. To get to that state doesn't just happen but if you say you need a stronger dose they don't really deny you that neither. She's not getting helped if this continues to be the case with her. By the time she goes back for her next dose they may not see the state she's in on the dose there giving her because she drinks it there and is out the door minutes later.

  6. Addict

    I am an opiate addict. I went on methadone 6 months ago and it saved my life. I no longer use narcotics and I feel like I have a new lease on life. I know the risks associated with methadone as i am a nurse. The benefits outweigh any risk that may present itself, and the program works only as well as you follow it. I want to start tapering down but I know it is too soon , I am just anxious to get done and off the methadone but this is a program that you have to commit 2 or more years too.If you put the time in and work your program you can have a permanently drug free life. after waiting 10 years of abusing opiates I can wait and have that life I deserve.

  7. Addict

    Oral methadone is better than nothing, but that's all it's better than. No way in hell is methadone any true "substitute" for street heroin. I felt fine on heroin compared to methadone. Now I have severe mood swings so bad I'm medicated up to the eyes on anti-psychotic bipolar meds to control symptoms that for all I know could be side-effects of methadone. Good luck to those of you trapped on the stuff. I'm down to 20mg a day and can't wait to get off.

  8. Addict

    How is the methadone dosage determined for 1st time treatment seekers?

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